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A REACTION PAPER

on the movie:
IRON JAWED ANGELS

In Partial Fulfillment for the Course JD 224:


Administrative Law, and Law on Public Officers, and Election Law

Submitted by:
Myrah Mae E. Jumao-as

Submitted to:
Atty. Judiel M. Pareja

JD-II/M4/Thursday 6:00-9:00 pm
February 18, 2016

Abstracti
Iron Jawed Angels tells the remarkable story of a group of passionate and dynamic young suffragettes
who put their lives on the line to fight for American Womens right to vote. They struggled with issues such
as the challenges of protesting a popular President during wartime and the perennial balancing between
love and career. This is a blazing story of endurance, determination, justice, friendship, and teamwork.
Alice Paul and the other suffragists mount an aggressive campaign demanding suffrage through
non-violence. They used parades and demonstrations with striking visual images, speaking tours,
campaigned against the Democratic Party who do not endorse the amendment, and engaged in
sustained picketing at the White House. The demonstrations were entirely peaceful and the banners often
used the words of President Wilson to argue the justice of their cause. The suffragists refused to support
the war effort noting that they had not been permitted to participate in making the decision on whether or
not to war. They also pointed to the hypocrisy of a nation that was fighting a war to make the world safe
for democracy but which refused to allow the vast majority of its female citizens to vote. The response
was violent, and the suffragettes were assaulted by the angry crowds, and the police didnt do anything to
protect them. They believed that their arrest were political and knew that the President and his
administration were responsible. They were sent to jail without due process of law. There, they still
continue to fight with their suffrage cause though subjected to brutality and abuse by the jail guards.
The suffragettes were applying all the principles of nonviolent mass action, and constantly kept
the suffrage issue in the forefront of the national consciousness and were a factor in leading President
Wilson to change his position and work actively for the passage of the 19 th Amendment.

Synopsisii
In 1912 Philadelphia, young suffragettes Alice Paul and Lucy Burns have a meeting with Carrie
Chapman and Anna Howard Shaw of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA),
formed in 1890 by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The cheerful yet rebellious spirit of the
young suffragists is in stark contrast to the more conservative older women. Paul and Burns want to push
for a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women by having the right to vote, but the older women
prefer a state-by-state approach. Still, Paul is permitted to take over NAWSAs Washington, D.C.
committee, provided she and burns raise their own funds. There, they begun planning their first big event,
a parade to promote womens suffrage, and recruit a team of volunteers, including Alices college friend
Mabel Vernon, Polish factory worker Ruza Wenclawska, and social worker Doris Stevens.
As depicted in the movie, the ladies led by Paul, solicit donations at an art gallery and also
introduced that they are connected with NAWSA. Paul was able to convinced labor lawyer Inez
Mulholland to serve as a figurehead for the parade and meets a Washington political cartoonist, Ben
Weissman, causing some romantic sparks to fly. The parade was arranged to coincide with President
Wilsons inauguration day, thus drawing attention from the media, out-of-towners, and local residents of
the nations capital. A lot of marchers participated, but spectators did not like what they saw. The crowd in
the sidelines harassed the marchers by shouting insults and obscenities while pinching and spitting on the
passing women. They yelled threats, tore clothing of parade participants, and attempted to climb aboard
passing floats. Police officers stood idly as the event teetered on the brink of riot. iii
Paul and burns were pleased with the resulting front page publicity, and over Catts objections, seek to
press their advantage by leading a delegation to see President Wilson. He puts them off with promises to
study the issue, and the women lobby members of Congress to get the suffrage amendment to the floor
for a vote, but it dies in committee. Paul and Burns further antagonize Catt when they raise funds outside
of NAWSA to publish a newspaper calling for women to boycott Wilson in the next election. Paul asked
Ben to help the cause, and agrees to go on a date with him. She is taken aback when Ben, a widower,
brings his young son to dinner with them. Although attracted to Ben, Paul chooses to forego a relationship
with him in order to devote herself completely to the suffrage cause.
When Catt calls for a NAWSA board investigation for the expenditures of Paul and Burns, they
leave the organization and formed the National Womans Party (NWP). Paul, in her speech in front of the
media stated:
The National Womans Party is composed entirely of women and does not align itself
officially or unofficially with any existing political party. The NWP does not support a candidate
for election.
---------------

We are a single platform party dedicated to the passage of the following constitutional
amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged
by the United States or any State on account of sex.
--------------We pledge unceasing opposition to any and all political candidates, to refuse to support this
amendment.

The NWP disrupts President Wilsons speech to Congress with a banner-protest, and the
influential Senator Leighton cuts off his wife Emilys allowance after discovering she has made donations
to the NWP. The women embark on a cross-country speaking tour for the cause, and an exhausted Inez
asks to remain home, but Paul convinced her to come along.
World War I begins, and President Wilson seems headed for victory in the reelection campaign.
Feeling it's better to have a friend than a foe in the White House, Catt tries to convince Paul and Burns to
withdraw from the campaign. In San Francisco, an ailing Inez collapsed and dies of pernicious anemia.
Feeling that she is responsible for Inez Mulholland's death, Paul retreats to her Quaker family's farm, until
Burns arrives and convinces her to continue the fight. They return to Washington, with a bold plan to
picket the White House. Senator Leighton objects to his wife's increasing involvement with the NWP, and
she walks out on him.
Wartime zeal turns public opinion against the suffragettes, who are arrested on the falsified
charge of "obstructing traffic," even though their picket line is on the sidewalk. Refusing to pay a fine for a
crime they didn't commit, the women are sentenced to sixty days in an Occoquan, Virginia women's
prison. Insisting that they're political prisoners, Burns demands the warden respect their rights, only to be
cuffed with her arms above her cell door. In solidarity and defiance, the other suffragettes assume Burns
painful posture. When Paul and Emily Leighton joined the picket line, they were attacked by a mob, and
subsequently imprisoned themselves. Thrown into solitary confinement for breaking a window for fresh
air, Paul goes on a hunger strike. She is then denied counsel, placed in a straitjacket, and subjected to
examination in the psychiatric ward. The doctor tells President Wilson that Paul shows no signs of mania
or delusion, and she returns to the prison's general population, where she leads the suffragettes on a
hunger strike. The warden begins force-feeding them, and a sympathetic guard sneaks Paul pen and
paper.
Catt tries to get President Wilson to repay her years of loyalty by finally supporting the suffrage
amendment, but he refuses. Senator Leighton visits his wife in prison, and is appalled by her condition.
During their meeting, she slips him Paul's note, describing in detail their mistreatment. Word of the forcefeeding leaks out, and public opinion shifts in favor of the suffragettes, now known as the "iron jawed
angels." Catt seizes the moment to press President Wilson into supporting the suffrage amendment, and
the women are released from prison as he comes out in its favor in a Congressional speech.
By August 18, 1920, 35 states have ratified the amendment, but one more state is needed.
Tennessee becomes that state when a wayward legislator casts the deciding vote after receiving a
telegram from his mother. On August 26, 1920, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment becomes law, and
millions of American women win the right to vote.

Discussion
They had no vote, no political clout, no equal rights. But what they lacked under the law, they
made up for with brains, determination and courage.iv

The amazing effort of women to acquire the vote is an intriguing and powerful story. Rising to
conscious expression worldwide in the mid-19th century, the pressing question was, should the vote of
only half the population count? While a clear and obvious answer lay waiting in the wings, it took brains,
determination and courage to make it a reality. Iron Jawed Angels, a remarkable film, brings to life the
dramatic account of a second wave of suffragists in America.
Alice Paul had two hallmark characteristics: non-violence and dramatic imagery. Nonviolent
doesnt mean passive or inactive. Quite the contrary, Alice Paul organized parades, petitions, train
tours, meetings with the President and other leaders, and political campaigns. She started pickets,
protests and boycotts. She formed talking tours and organized the famous Silent Sentinels who manned
picket lines at the gates of the White House and the Capitol. The women would carry banners supporting
their cause and stand in all kinds of weather and would speak only if spoken to. The Silent Sentinels
would bear witness to the injustice with which they were treated and the powerful visual image of a picket
line at the house of the President. They would stay until the President actively supported a constitutional

amendment providing for womens suffrage. Miss Paul and her associates published a newspaper called
The Suffragist.v
Protests organized by Alice Paul had two purposes: one was to champion the cause of suffrage
and the other was to elevate the status of women in their own eyes and in the view of society as a whole.
Miss Paul was very much aware of the power of visual displays that would lead to newspaper stories and
engage the publics attention. From the March 1913 parade that stole the show from President Wilsons
arrival in Washington for his inauguration, to the Silent Sentinels that picketed the White House through
all kinds of weather, despite being assaulted by angry crowds, and in the face of arrest by the police, Alice
Paul was a master at using visual images to highlight her protests. This is graphically shown by the
parade and picketing scenes in the movie.vi
She defined herself in the movie as a herald. True to her word, she uses her brain, her education,
her Quaker upbringing, her extraordinary determination for the suffrage cause, and her unwavering
courage by starving to death in order for her cause, to which the Government Psychiatrist opined to the
President and the District Commissioner Patrick Henrys words, Give me Liberty or Give me Death!
Womens courage is often mistaken for insanity.
We shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,
For democracy,
For the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments.
Clearly, the struggle with these women was not actually between people, but between opposing forces
the centurys old belief in male dominance and female incapacity, and the progressive realization starting
in late 19th century.
In the old belief, women had enjoyed no political rights. They only stayed in homes, serve her
husband and raise children. Like in the movie, Emilys funds are from her husband Senator Leighton
which subsequently been cut-off due to her ties with the NWP. She was even deprived of her rights over
her children where her husband told her that theres no Judge who will award custody to mothers, and
that she cant afford an attorney. In turn, she blurted in tears saying, What will your Judge say? That this
is your house? Your house and your children. What am I to you Tom? What am I then in your house?
Chattel? Obviously, women are treated with less importance, and are treated as merely possessions of
men. During the Middle Ages, only kings and nobles had a voice in government. When democratic
institutions first began to take hold, only well-off male property owners could vote. Other industries also
opposed that women must be given rights or voice to the government fearing that women may pass
policies inimical to their financial interests.
On the other hand, by 1912, American society had started to change its views. Millions of women
and men had come to realize that women should be allowed to take a larger role in society. In the latter
part of the 19th century, women had been admitted to colleges, although only in small numbers compared
to men. The prohibitions on married women owning their own property and collecting their own wages
were dropped. The movement towards granting equal rights to more people is already a case on point.
Still, as of 1912, most American women had no voice in deciding who would be their governor, their state
legislators, their senators or congressman or their president. vii
In the movie, daily picketing at the White House began and the suffragettes stood at the sides of
the White House fence so as not to obstruct traffic along the sidewalk. However, they were arbitrarily
arrested and the charge was staged. The arrested suffragists fought hard on their rights and firmly
implead in court for the political liberty of American Women. It is clear then, that the suffragettes yearn for
a new movement, a new image, and new results. They want to enfranchise women by granting them their
right to vote. They didnt stop with their cause, not until their voices were heard by the people and by the
authorities.
You ask me to explain myself. I just wondering, what needs to be explained? It should be very
clear. Look into your own heart; I swear to you, mines no different. You want a place in trade and
profession where you can earn your bread? So do I. You want the means of self expression, so
why youre satisfying your own personal ambitions? So do I. You want a voice in the government
under which you live? So do I. What is there to explain?
Alice Paul exclaimed the above-quoted words to the Government Psychiatrist when she was asked to
explain about her suffrage cause. Shes stern and on point when she said those. She is right of not
explaining about her cause, when in the first place she was imprisoned and tortured because of her
cause. There is no point of explanation when it is already apparent that through her actions and courage,
she demands democracy and liberty for women.

Through peaceful picketing and silent protests, the suffragettes are clear with their cause. They
wanted to have voices in the government by having the fundamental right to vote since they are, after all,
were subjected to the laws of the country, and shockingly they are prohibited from voting for the state or
federal legislators who made those laws or for the governors or presidents who administered them. viii
Thus, in the words of President Wilson at the end of the movie, This war could not have been fought by
America if it had not been for the services of women. We have made partners of women in this war. Shall
we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil? And not a partnership of privilege
and right? xxx, men and women are not independent from each other. There is actually no superior nor
inferior, one from the other. They are for themselves dependent upon each other in the quest of their
respective causes. We must then respect the equality of rights between men and women.
Kaiser Wilson
Have you forgotten how you sympathized with the poor Germans because they were not selfgoverned?
20, 000, 000 American Women are not self-governed
Take the beam out of your own eye!
The banners displayed by the suffragists were at times incendiary, such as the wordings abovequoted. Kaiser was the title of the much vilified leader of Germany. America was fighting a war to make
the world safe for democracy, while not extending democracy to 20 million American Women. The
suffragists now attacked the President and his administration, calling them hypocrites. The comparison
between Wilson and Kaiser was especially infuriating to the President and to the crowds that attacked the
pickets because it contained an element of truth. Most American women had no voice in their
government; for them the United States was, in effect, a tyranny. In effect, Alice Paul and the other
suffragists were jailed. Their response were hunger strikes, but they were, especially Paul, brutally forced
fed through a tube pushed into the stomach through their mouth or nose. ix
Paul and the others must not; in the first place, be subject of the jurisdiction of the court or any other
courts since, as a disenfranchised class, they have nothing to do with the making of the laws which have
put them in their positions. They were incarcerated with no legal basis. It is really unfair that men, having
voices in the government would enact laws at the prejudice of women by ordering to obey them, and in
turn these women were disrespected or even denied with their basic rights. Their political and civil rights
were degraded from the arrest up to their confinement in prison cells. It is tyranny indeed. Hypocrisy on
the belief that women are represented already by men and that enfranchising them only means taboo.

When youre alone, you can make any choice you want. But when someone loves you, you lose
that right. I wont give anything away til we have it all. I cant.
In the movie, there was a romantic feels between Alice Paul and Ben Weissman. However, Paul
just brushed her feelings off by stating the above-quoted. She is selfless. Paul did not think for herself but
for the other women as well, who believe for the suffrage cause. Her character can be summarized by as
follows:
a. She is definitely smart and wise too. She led the NWP with thousands of members, able to raise
funds for their party, and able to clearly convey to the public, awareness of their fight for suffrage;
b. She is will-powered and bullheaded. She and the others endured torture or brutality. Paul
organized hunger strikes and was forced fed but tolerated it. They did not stop fighting for what
they believe are rightful for them;
c.

She is fierce and courageous. In the movie, even if NAWSA women opposed her and expressed
distrust towards her, she did not stop. Instead, it made her strong. Strong enough to separate and
founded the NWP. Also, she was not afraid when she threw her boots in the window so that fresh
air will come in for the benefit of the other imprisoned women who were about to faint, in
exchange of being locked up in the solitary; and lastly

d. Her deeds are noble. No matter what happens, even if the right guy had got away, she still thinks
of the others welfare. She is too focused on her goals.

Conclusion

On the whole, the works of the suffragettes are worth emulating. They were epitomes of
dedication, determination, courage, and of never giving up til you have it. Injustice must not be tolerated
but must be fought. There are also times that we have to stick with our original plans or great causes,
even if at times we find ourselves lonely or exhausted in the end. We must selflessly think, therefore, not
for ourselves, but for the others as well.
Alice Pauls non-violent approach: (1) kept the push of political pressure on the President, (2)
kept the suffrage issue before the voters, (3) vividly made the point that the United States was being
hypocritical in fighting a war to make the world safe for democracy while denying the vote to millions of
women, and (4) earned the respect of the nation by standing steadfast despite false arrests, wrongful
imprisonment, and torture by the government.x

iReferences
Description: Iron Jawed Angels. Retrieved from February 16, 2016 from
http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/iron-jawed-angels.html

iiSynopsis. From the Official Press Release by HBO. Retrieved from February 16, 2016 from http://iron-jawedangels.com/synopsis_1.htm and http://iron-jawed-angels.com/synopsis_2.htm

iii Carter, C.M. (2011). Raise Up Your Cloth! The Woman Suffrage Movements Second Generation. Retrieved
from February 16, 2016 from http://www.socialstudies.org/system/files/publications/mll/40/MLL40.pdf

iv Film Review: Iron Jawed Angels. Retrieved from February 16, 2016 from http://www.feminenza.org/ironjawed-angels-written-by-jennifer-friedes-directed-by-katja-von-garnier/

v Alice Paul and the Struggle for 19th Amendment: What Really Happened. Retrieved from February 16, 2016
from www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/iron-jawed.../alice-paul-handout.doc

vi Ibid iv.

vii Ibid iv.

viiiDiscussion Questions: Iron Jawed Angels. Retrieved from February 16, 2016 from
http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/iron-jawed-angels.html
ixIbid iv.

xIbid iv.